Gary: It seems that we’re beginning to hear some recurrent themes from our friends that live closest to the border.
Kristy: I’m reflecting on that too. Remember the beautiful challenge our cousin Joe Nebhan put before us just before we left El Paso? I think he said it this way:
“There are commonly-held misconceptions about the border that are based solely upon fear, not on knowledge. I recommend to those uninitiated Americans who, for whatever reason they have not spent time here to experience us, do not judge us until you observe on the ground what is happening here.”
Gary: When you mentioned that sensibility to Marcos Paredes in Terlingua the other day, remember how he responded?
“You just nailed it, Kristy, that’s the key issue: A huge portion of the American population has never and will never see the border itself, but have formed opinions about it that are large unfounded. They lost touch with the realities here… or never were in touch with them to begin with. It’s even that way for some of the newer Border Patrol officers who get transferred into our region from elsewhere. I’ve served as a tracker helping to rescue people lost in the desert, but these guys… Well, I hate to say it but your average greenhorn Border Patrolman today wouldn’t even be able to track a bleeding elephant through the desert, let alone another human.”
Kristy: We have three takeaways so far: EVERYONE we have been meeting with on our 1200-mile journey from Tucson to Texas: Humanitarian workers, Park Rangers, businesswomen and men, shop owners; conservation workers, and ranchers are all saying this: 1.) We need to flip the script from seeing/understanding migrants and refugees as an economic drain on the USA and rather as contributing members of our society; 2.) We/U.S., need to invest in our American neighbors to the South and do something to reduce the demand for Mexican drugs in the U.S.; 3.) We need to use the funds that have been verbally committed to the wall and invest in the economies of our southern neighbors, our neighbors’ children.
More from the heart of the borderlands later. From Big Bend, Texas…
Written by: Gary Nabhan and Kristy Nabhan-Warren